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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Veterinary Pathology

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Explore a Master's Degree in Veterinary Pathology

Veterinary pathology is a subfield of veterinary medicine that focuses on the diagnosis of diseases through the examination of animal tissue and fluid samples. Veterinary pathologists also assist in the development of drug therapies for animals. Students enrolled in an online master's degree program in veterinary pathology will typically need to choose a specialization in either anatomical or clinical pathology. Anatomical practice focuses on the analysis of animal bodies and tissue, where clinical pathology uses laboratory analysis of fluid samples to diagnose disease. Students in both tracks will be equipped with the analytical skills and scientific knowledge necessary to pursue careers working directly with animals, collaborating with veterinarians or in a research capacity. Job opportunities may be in either the public or private sector.

Online students have the flexibility to adjust their course load to suit their work schedule if they decide to continue working while enrolled full or part time. The typical time to completion for this type of program is two to three years. However, please note, factors like the number of courses a student elects to take each term, any applicable transfer credits brought in, and whether or not a student takes any breaks from the program can all influence time to completion.

Class Curriculum

Students studying veterinary pathology should expect a combination of lecture, seminar, laboratory, field work, and research courses. The curriculum will explore foundational topics such as animal anatomy, pathology, oncology, and the origin of diseases. Some specific examples of possible courses include:

  • Clinical Pathology. This course combines laboratory and lecture components. Students will learn about hematology, clinical biochemistry, and cytology of domestic animals.
  • Biopsy Practicum. This class is set up so that students receive one-on-one instruction from faculty during the practice of biopsy techniques. Students will also be required to perform analysis of tissue samples, write pathology reports, and review these reports with instructors.
  • Cellular Pathology. This type of course will explore the response of the body to disease. Students will learn about fine structural and molecular changes, including mechanisms of cellular injury, carcinogenesis, and the inflammatory process.

Typical assignments in a veterinary pathology program include research papers, exams, laboratory, and clinical practicum exercises. Depending on the program, students should also be prepared to complete a clerkship and/or a master's thesis. This will require students to demonstrate their skills in a real-world setting and conduct their own original research with the knowledge and skills they have gained through the program.

Building a Career

Graduates who earn their master's degree in veterinary pathology are equipped with the technical, analytical, and diagnostic skills required to work in collaboration with private practice veterinarians or in a research capacity. They may find employment with private laboratory or research companies, or even government agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for animal scientists is expected to grow by 13% from 2010 to 2020. This is slightly slower than the 14% growth expected for jobs overall during this projection period.

The majority of industry growth is expected in the private sector due to growing demand for increased quality and safety measures in agricultural production. Animal scientists earned a median annual salary of $58,250. Colleges, universities, and professional schools were the top employers for animal scientists, followed by the scientific research and development services industry. Those who worked in support activities for animal production earned the highest salaries at a mean annual wage of $108,600. Please note, however, that these statistics are just estimates. Actual starting salaries and job openings are influenced by a number of factors such as location, work experience, level of education, the specific employer and industry, and the general economic climate.